J.D. Martinez’s first day on the job was one to remember.
J.D. Martinez wasn’t in the starting lineup on Saturday, but that didn’t prevent him from logging his first big league at- bat — and hit, and RBI — just a few hours after arriving to Miller Park.
Martinez, the latest Astros prospect to get the call to the big leagues, hit for Aneury Rodriguez in the eighth inning and laced a double to the warning track in dead center, scoring Humberto Quintero. Not bad for a 23-year-old outfielder who 24 hours earlier was pulled from the game his Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks were playing in Midland, only to find out he was booked for an early-morning flight to Milwaukee.
Even without the hit, Martinez still would be the best bet to start in left field on Sunday for the series finale between the Brewers and Astros. When pressed about his plans for the slugging outfielder, manager Brad Mills used a similar line as when Jose Altuve was called up: “We’re not bringing him up not to play. We want to see this guy play. We saw how he can swing the bat in Spring Training. All the reports and numbers look good at Double-A.”
Martinez looked a little dazed when he arrived to the clubhouse around 90 minutes before game time on Saturday. This is understandable, given the combination of an early-morning flight and the reality that he went from being a middle-of-the-order Double-A left fielder to a Major Leaguer in the span of 24 hours.
Martinez was blistering the ball during his time with the Hooks, so much that a few of us were shaking our heads, wondering why he wasn’t at least moving up to Triple-A for the final month of the Minor League season. Martinez had no such thoughts, however, and was happy to be honing his skills in Corpus.
“The front office knows what they’re doing,” he said. “They know how to develop a player. If they kept me there and they wanted me to learn, it’s for a reason…I’m always confident in that. I was not in a rush to get up here. I want to be here, absolutely, but I wanted to make sure I’m ready. That’s the most important thing.”
The call to the Majors was the last thing on Martinez’s mind during the Hooks’ game on Friday. He had been on base during an early inning, and when it ended, he waited for someone to bring out his hat and glove (a standard practice between a teammate who is in the dugout when the inning ends and his teammate who’s on the field), but no one did. So Martinez ran to the dugout, where he found athletic trainer Eric Montague holding his equipment.
“I was like, ‘Uh oh,’” Martinez recalled. “Then I had it in my mind, could it be? My heart started going 100 miles an hour. I didn’t know what to think. (Montague) told me to go upstairs to talk to Ed (Wade).“
One of my favorite things about going to Milwaukee is the Sausage Race, which takes place in the sixth inning of every Brewers home game. It’s a long-standing tradition that hasn’t changed much over the years (save for the addition of the Chorizo a few years back) but never fails to make me laugh.
I also laugh at my tendency to be somewhat gullible, like the time I saw the sausage race for the very first time, way back during my first season with the Astros in 1997. I was watching the television broadcast of the Astros-Brewers game, and after the sausage race, they put up a graphic of the Astros’ record in Milwaukee when the Polish sausage won, and the Brat, and the Hot Dog, and on and on. I thought, “No way! They keep records of that stuff?” Obviously, no, they didn’t. But the way Brownie and J.D. went on and on about it, giving their analysis, speculating why the Astros seemed to step up their game a notch when the Brat crossed the finish line first…well, it just seemed so believable.
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